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 Today is Awareness Day Letter. 
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Post Today is Awareness Day Letter.
This was on another site but the lady gave permission for anyone to use it.

My FMS Awareness Day Letter to Coworkers (You can use this) 05/11/06 03:32 PM

Hello, friends --

Tomorrow, May 12, 2006, is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. The theme this year is "But You Don't Look Sick!" It is a combined effort of The National Fibromyalgia Association, medical professionals, patients, and family members to raise awareness of this potentially debilitating illness in hopes that awareness will bring to others an understanding of this syndrome and a desire to find a cure.

I wish that there were some sort of form letter I could just send out to you, since it's difficult for me to approach this issue eloquently, but I guess I'll just write a little article to let you know what FMS is from my own experiences with it.

FMS (FibroMyalgia Syndrome) is a disorder of the central nervous system, and it is classified as an autoimmune disorder. FMS has only recently been differentiated from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and has its own unique symptoms. These symptoms can include muscle spasms, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, stiffness, brain fog/short-term memory problems, depression, difficulties sleeping, and heightened sensory perception, among many other medical problems most patients report. Symptoms vary from day to day -- a patient may feel great one day, and unable to get out of bed the next.

This is a chronic illness that never goes away, but it is not a terminal illness. Researchers are still trying to figure out if this is a genetic disorder, or something brought on by a trauma, such as an automobile accident, grief at the loss of a loved one, or something else.

Patients who do not react to prescription medications for these symptoms are eventually referred to a specialist. The rheumatologist, neurologist, or physiologist puts a small amount of pressure on 18 tender points -- the amount of pressure needed to turn a fingernail white. FMS is diagnosed if the patient reacts negatively to this pressure on at least 11 of these points, and if the medical practitioner feels a knot. Before a diagnosis is official, the practitioner checks the patient's medical background and looks for presence of other symptoms listed above.

Between 3 to 6 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with this syndrome, and most of those people saw an average of four or five different physicians before they were properly diagnosed (about five years of experiencing symptoms). Many medical practitioners do not acknowledge fibromyalgia as a medical condition. It is known as "The Invisible Disease" since most FMers experience extreme pain throughout their bodies, but do not exhibit any outward physical ailment. For some people, the pain is so bad, that they must leave the workforce, sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week -- sometimes permanently.

A vast majority of females who are eventually diagnosed with FMS have been unsuccessfully treated for depression for many years and told that all the pain they are experiencing is "just in their heads" and due to a psychological problem. It is much more rare for males to report having this disease, but this may be due to a lower likelihood for a male to see a physician when ill.

The National Fibromyalgia Association is campaigning tomorrow to make others aware of this condition. There is no cure for this disease. If there is an increased awareness, there is hope that others who are being treated for all these different symptoms will see a practitioner who is familiar with FMS and is comfortable treating it. If more people are properly diagnosed, this will hopefully encourage more drug companies to fund research on this condition so they can formulate something that our bodies will respond to.

I know quite a few people who are getting the message out tomorrow, and it's not for sympathy or pity or any of that stuff. It's just a great way to make others aware of the issue. I strongly encourage you to check out NFA's website,, and consider making a donation in celebration of this, um, event (don't know if that is the right word). The NFA is very much involved in funding medical research, publications, etc.

Additionally, you will find a lot of detailed information about FMS on that website. If you have a bunch of the symptoms listed, and have been unsuccessfully treated by multiple physicians -- you might want to get a referral to a specialist. I had a majority of symptoms for about six years before I was diagnosed. I truly wish I had learned about this disease sooner so that I could have begun proper treatment.

Most important of all, if you have a loved one who you know has some of these symptoms, send on this email -- send it on anyway, because they might know someone... You get the point. Chances are, you might be sending it to somebody who has FMS, who simply has not been made aware of Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. You could make their Friday even better.

Thank you so much for reading this! Really and truly.

Life is what you make of it with what God gives you.

Fri May 12, 2006 11:43 am
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